By: Leanne Ely
I shared some tips with you a couple weeks ago about grilling meats but there’s more to summer barbecue season than burgers and steaks!
Why turn on the stove to cook your veggies when you have a perfectly good hot grill already prepped? Never mind the fact that grilled veggies and fruits taste like something out of Heaven — if you know how to cook them properly!
Here are some of my best produce grilling tips:
Don’t use your veggie peeler. Don’t peel your vegetables before you grill them. Another reason why you need to buy organic produce! You’ll lose the nutrients and much of the flavor if you peel your veggies before they hit the grill. You’ll also get a smokier flavor if you leave the peels on. Remember the clean fifteen list and the dirty dozen when you’re trying to decide where to invest in organic produce.
Precook. Some hardier veggies need a bit of precooking to shorten the time they must spend on the grill. These types of vegetables would include: asparagus, broccoli, beets, artichokes, parsnips, carrots, winter squash and potatoes. Steam them or blanch them until they are only slightly tender, then pat them dry and cook them on the grill. That extra step will make sure the outside and inside of those sturdy veggies are cooked evenly. Vegetables like peppers, onions, eggplant, fennel, tomatoes and summer squash can be grilled raw.
Oil them. Rub a tiny little bit of olive oil (not extra virgin) or coconut oil on your veggies before you grill them. This will help prevent them from sticking to the grill, and it will also help keep them from drying out. Just a little bit because if there’s oil dripping from the food, you’ll experience flare ups.
Soak your fruits. Before grilling fruits, try drizzling them with honey or maple syrup, or soaking them in liquor. Talk about a flavor burst! Especially if you’ll be serving grilled pineapple or pears for dessert. Yes you can grill pears! You can also grill apples, watermelon and peaches. Reach for fruit that is firm and just barely ripe for your best options in fruit grilling.
Indirect heat. When grilling fruits and veggies, you want moderately hot coals or indirect heat. You may need to move them around throughout the cooking process to make sure they cook evenly.
Stick it to them. Skewers are great tools for grilling veggies. It’s tempting to make beautiful kabobs out of meat and veggies but if you want to ensure even cooking, skewer all the same type of veggie per skewer. Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, chunks of onion and pineapple are all wonderful cooked on skewers.
Use packets. Some veggies don’t lend themselves well to skewers or grill baskets. Peas, beans, sliced peppers, etc. For these lovely foods, try making a packet out of tin foil and cook them that way. This is also a good way to cook potatoes, or to cook other veggies with a sauce or topping of some sort.
There you have it.
Have I missed anything? Do you have anything to add?
by Leanne Ely
You know my motto when it comes to eating fruits and veggies: eat fresh, eat local, eat seasonal. The easiest way to stick to that rule of thumb is to grow your own. Whether you have a big garden out in the yard or a few pots of herbs growing in a sunny window, there is a certain satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from eating what you have grown.
When growing your own food you want to start with a solid foundation and this is your soil. One of the best things you can use is compost. Composting is the process in which you allow, and even assist, nature to break down organic matter into a very nutrient-rich dark dirt-like substance. By learning to compost you cut down on the amount of garbage you throw away and consequently, create wonderful nutrients for your garden.
Back Yard Composting
To start composting in your backyard, you simply need to start a pile. Pick a good location in your back yard, it doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or shady, just make sure it’s accessible to water and that it’s an easy spot to add in leaves, garden and grass clippings. Make sure its at least two feet away from any structure (including fences).
You should shoot for a 60/40 blend of brown cuttings to green and food scraps. If you chop everything up first, your composting will go faster. Each time you add to your pile, add some water; don’t soak it but make sure its dampened. If your food scraps were wet when you put them in the pile, that should be enough moisture.
The next and final thing you need to do to your pile is to turn it occasionally. This will keep the heat more stable and keep the “food” at the center of the pile. It also helps to destroy disease by bringing contaminates to the surface so that the heat can destroy them. This will add oxygen which keeps the micro organisms that are breaking down the compost alive, and it also reduces odor.
Back Porch Composting
You can buy many different types of back porch compost systems or “tumblers”. These work well for smaller yards. With a tumbler it is more important to chop the ingredients that you put in it and keep a good mixture of organic materials, brown materials such as shredded dried leaves. Check your moisture level and turn often. If it starts smelling add more brown materials and mix well.
Regardless of what you put in your compost the more organic, unprocessed items the better. Here’s a quick list to help you get the most out of your composting.
|Brown — 60%
||Green — 40%
||Do Not Add
|Dried leaves (fall leaves)
||Green plant cuttings
||Green grass clippings
||Feces from humans or pets
By: Leanne Ely
I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time buying produce that I can easily grow myself. At my house, we eat a lot of salad. As many of you know, I serve a large green salad with almost every meal that goes on the table. All of those heads of lettuce can add up!
So, I recently started looking into some ways to grow my own lettuce indoors and I thought I would share what I’m learning with y’all.
All you need is:
• A large round pot, about 6 inches deep (or a container of some sort with roughly the same depth)
• Organic potting soil (look for the kind with perlite in it—thats those little round white balls)
• Mesclun mix seeds (or whatever lettuce you like best)
• A sunny window
You’ll need a window that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If your lettuce doesn’t get enough sun, it will get tall and spindly and that isn’t what you want.
To grow your lettuce:
1. Fill your container to the halfway mark with soil. You can sprinkle some fertilizer on there if you want to. Moisten the soil and sprinkle a couple pinches of seeds on top. Sprinkle a little more soil over the seeds and spritz the surface with more water.
2. Water daily and keep the pot in the sun or under a grow light. The seeds should sprout up in about seven days and your first harvest should be ready in about a month.
To harvest your lettuce:
After you cut your lettuce the first time (leave the growing crowns alone!), you’ll only have to wait another two weeks for a fresh crop.
And it’s pretty much just that easy!
Fresh lettuce greens are just the best, aren’t they?
PS – The 21 Day Knock Out starts TODAY!!! I’ll sneak you in, but you gotta come right now!!
By: Leanne Ely
Everyone’s concerned about watching the grocery budget these days, and rightly so! Food costs are climbing, and there’s no sign of this trend stopping anytime soon.
I’m often met with resistance when I talk about eating nutritious foods (especially as part of a Paleo lifestyle) because people claim they can’t afford to eat healthy.
To be honest, it can seem expensive at first, especially if you’re looking at the $15 package of chicken breasts when you know you can buy a frozen lasagna for $5 that will easily feed your family of four.
I could sit here all day and tell you that eating a healthy diet will pay for itself in spades in the long run, but the fact is, we only have so much money to spend on food.
So, the following tips will help you stretch your grocery budget, even if you’re a Paleoista.
Purchase ingredients and not packages. Stop looking for the healthiest granola bars or gluten-free brownies on the shelf. Instead, buy ingredients to make your own healthy snacks (Blending a banana and some Medjool dates tastes like a homemade Larabar!). Or, even better, eat nature’s own snack foods by eating whole foods like apples, berries and seeds. Same thing goes for foods like almond flour—if it comes in a bag, there’s a chance you can make your own. If you have a good food processor, buy some natural almonds in bulk and ground them into flour. If it’s a really good machine, you can make your own almond butter and almond milk, too! Make your own condiments. If you aren’t Paleo, but want to eat healthier buy organic corn kernels for your weekly movie night. Purchase dried beans instead of canned, and cook them yourself. See where I’m going with this? Stop looking for convenience because convenience is expensive, y’all!
Buy frozen fruits and veggies in bulk. Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh, and it’s much more affordable to purchase frozen than it is fresh. I always suggest people buy enough fresh produce like lettuce, asparagus, broccoli and zucchini to use at the beginning of the week, and then have frozen on hand for the last part of the week. This stretches the budget a bit and allows for less food spoilage.
Rethink your meat purchases. Protein is expensive, but there are ways to save money in the meat department. Buy whole chickens, and cut them into pieces yourself rather than buying the more expensive chicken pieces where the work has been done for you. When it comes to beef, choose less expensive cuts and learn how to cook them properly. Those cheap cuts can be the tastiest if you cook them low and slow by braising or stewing them.
An even better way to save on meat costs is to get together with some neighbors and see about sharing the cost of a whole cow or pig to put in your freezers. It seems like an expensive purchase up front, but it will pay for itself over the course of 6 months or so!
Know what needs to be bought organic. Shop according to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to ensure you’re eliminating the greatest amount of pesticides from your diet without going broke to do so. You can see an updated list at ewg.org, where you’ll learn that potatoes and apples should always be purchased organic (so if your budget doesn’t allow for those items, buy conventionally grown sweet potatoes and mangoes instead).
Stop splurging. Look for unnecessary items in your cart and remove them! You don’t really need to spend $4 on bottled water. You also don’t need those individual coffee pods. Take a good look at your home and see which nonessential items you are wasting your money on (this includes junk food and “treats”).
Stick to the list! Make a meal plan at the beginning of each week and make your shopping list according to that plan. At the store, stick to the list. Being prepared like this, having a list that corresponds to the meals you need to make for dinner each day, also prevents trips to the grocery store throughout the week to pick up a missing ingredient.
Thousands of people depend on our New Dinner Answers program to do this work for them, and I believe the low monthly subscription rate pays for itself in the first week when you don’t have to run to the store for anything! With Dinner Answers, you know what meals you’re making every evening, and you get a shopping list to take with you to the store. It saves time and money! Oh, and because the meals have been developed by a nutritionist (yours truly), you know they’re healthy AND delicious.
By: Leanne Ely
I can’t remember the last time I bought a jar of honey. I’ve had no need to since I started raising my own backyard bees!
My honeybees amaze me every single day and every July, they provide me with all of the honey I could possibly need for the year (and some nice gifts for family too!).
This is way more than a hobby for me. It’s a statement. I feel a great connection to the food chain and the planet in general knowing my little guys in the hive are helping pollinate the world.
The US Department of Agriculture suggests that 1/3 of everything we eat is pollenated by honeybees.
A Cornell University study estimates that roughly $14 billion worth of crops and seeds in this country are pollinated by honeybees.
Without honeybees, 80% of our flowering crops in the country would be at risk. Everything from asparagus to nuts to blueberries and apples. A threatened honeybee population would also risk our livestock since they eat plants to survive.
Talk about an under-appreciated workforce!
Beekeepers across the world—Canada, the UK, France, Greece, Spain, and the list goes on—are reporting Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is also known as bee decline disease. The problem is not getting any better.
Many bee experts implicate Monsanto for their Roundup product and many other insecticides used in modern agriculture as one of the reasons for CCD.
The fact is if we lose the honeybees, our food supply is quite seriously in jeopardy.
The absolute best thing we can do as stewards of the planet, is to raise our own backyard bees. That being said, I am fully aware that this is not an option for a lot of people!
However, all of us with yards can feed the bees by planting a bee garden to help provide the honeybees with good healthy nectar so they can do their part continuing to pollinate our food.
Bee love nectar rich perennial plants in your yard like hellebores, sedums and campanulas. When you plant different types of perennials, you have different plants flowering through the seasons, so the bees have a steady diet. And perennials show up year after year, more glorious than the year before giving you a continual show.
Bees also love shrubs like Japanese quince and winter-flowering honeysuckle.
Try to plant your bee garden in full sun and in a place sheltered from wind. A birdbath with a rock for resting will provide visiting bees with a place to stop and grab a little water. Believe it or not, they prefer dirty water over clean!
Oh, and bees love lavender! My bees have 4 bushes of lavender to choose from and last year’s honey was lovely and fragranted by that lavender.
This should go without saying, but Crayola green lawns obtained by herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides will kill off bees. I had someone admiring my grass awhile back and asked me how I did it without the aforementioned chemicals. My answer? When the grass is mowed, grass and weeds look the same. We don’t have to golf course lawns y’all! 🙂
By: Leanne Ely
There is a topic that keeps coming across my radar, both on Facebook, my email inbox, and even at the market when my fellow shoppers wonder what I’m doing with all of that kale (when my own crop has been harvested for the season, of course!): kale chips.
And, today, we’re going to talk kale chips with a trick, a tip, and a new kale chip recipe to try.
Kale, as you know, is a super food, and many people are jumping on the kale bandwagon (yay!). Kale chips are an easy-to-make snack food that is delicious and super good for you.
Be sure to buy organic curly kale. Kale is on the Dirty Dozen list and is one of those vegetables that should only be eaten when you can find it organic. (Curly is my preferred variety for kale chips—feel free to buy other varieties for other kale recipes!)
Now, it’s time for your Trick!
The secret to the best, crunchiest kale chips is to get them as dry as possible. So, after you soak your kale in a big bowl of water to remove the dirt and any bugs that might be lurking in there, spin the heck out of it. Any moisture on those kale leaves is going to lead to soggy chips. (And you don’t want that.)
Cook a batch of kale chips before you start your dinner prep and offer them to the kids as a snack. This is a great way to get the veggies into them in a manner that might appeal to them! You don’t even have to tell them that the kale chips were part of their dinner 😉
And your Recipe:
Garlic Chili Kale Chips
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
6 cups chopped kale
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a large bowl toss all the ingredients well. Pour kale mixture onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until kale is crispy. Serve warm.
Most of us aren’t getting enough veggies into us in the run of a day, and while kale chips are a great start, you can probably be doing more. We developed our Just Juiced Veggies to help you get in all a great dose of green veggies in one easy shot. Check it out here!